A historic peace accord was signed on Monday between the Indian Government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and leaders of Nagaland’s militant group, NSCN (IM). It is no doubt a remarkable achievement for the ruling government since such a deal appears to end India’s oldest insurgency problem.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 3, 2015
But one must also note that somewhat similar agreements were signed in 1947 and 1975, too, to no avail. So let us first take a glance at Nagaland’s insurgency history.
April 1946: The Naga National Council (NNC), a political body, is formed to protect the interests of Nagas.
August 14, 1947: The first call for separation of Nagaland from India is made.
Angami Zapu Phizo, the then leader of NNC, proclaims Nagaland as an independent country, which is rejected by the Government of India. A 1947 pact was signed by then Assam governor Akbar Hydari and representatives of the Naga National Council (NNC) which recognised the “right of the Nagas to develop themselves according to their freely expressed wishes”.
May 1951: The NNC, under Phizo, claims that 99 per cent of the Naga people supported independence for Nagaland in a ‘referendum’.
1952: Following the rejection of the referendum by the Government of India, the NNC begins India’s oldest secessionist movement in the form of Naga insurgency.
April, 1956: India sends in army to crush the Naga secessionist movement.
September 11, 1958: The AFSPA imposed on Northeastern states in the wake of Naga violence. Phizo had already escaped to East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) two years ago.
April 11, 1962: The President of India issues the Nagaland Security Regulation 1962, to contain subversive activities in the State.
December 1, 1963: Nagaland carved out of Assam. Attains Statehood.
November 11, 1975: The Shillong Accord signed.
According to the terms of the Accord, the NNC, NFG accept the Indian Constitution and agree to surrender their weapons.
January 31, 1980: National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) formed.
Isak Chisi Swu becomes Executive Chairman, Thuengaling Muivah is General Secretary and S.S. Khaplang is Vice-Chairman.
April 30, 1988: NSCN disbands into two groups.
One faction is led by Khaplang (NSCN-K) and the other by Isak Swu and T. Muivah (NSCN-IM).
1990: After Phizo’s death in April, NNC splits into two factions.
November 28, 1990: All factions of NSCN are banned under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act
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I am happy and I welcome this: Former Nagaland CM Neiphiu Rio on Naga accord pic.twitter.com/x7dUbSOlYu
— ANI (@ANI_news) August 3, 2015
April 27, 2001: NSCN-K agrees to a ceasefire called by the Indian Army.
A previous attempt had failed in 1997.
March 27, 2015: Conflict breaks out again as NSCN-K trashes ceasefire.
Rajiv Gandhi had succeeded with the Mizo peace accord with Laldenga in 1986. Narendra Modi, too, might taste that kind of success with the Naga accord. Experts believe that the Centre-NSCN (IM) deal will usher in an atmosphere of stability in all the Northeastern states. Since the NSCN (IM) faction is more influential than the Khaplang faction, it is likely that the latter will come around for talks with India.
The rise of an alliance between various militant groups of the northeast might pose a threat to this peace accord. A coalition militant outfit named United National Liberation Front of Western South East Asia (UNLFW) was responsible for the attack on India soldiers in Manipur in June this year, which triggered the Indian military operation inside Myanmar.
There is a history of violent internal strife between NSCN (IM) and NSCN (K), which forces against India (read China) will like to exploit. Note that this accord is between the Government of India and the NSCN (IM) faction only. The NSCN (K) faction still remains hostile towards India, and it now has support from the dreaded ULFA.
One of the key demands of NSCN (IM) is the formation of a territory called Greater Nagalim or Greater Nagaland, which will include some portions of Nagaland’s neighbouring states. Since the government is yet to release the terms of the peace accord, it is not known if the matter was a part of the discussions. It is obvious that neighbouring states, and, perhaps, militant outfits in those states, will object to the formation of Greater Nagalim.
Can this be dubbed as Modi’s achievement alone?
No, the process of talks with NSCN (IM) began way back in the early 90s. In 1995, then Prime Minister P.V. Narsimha Rao had met Swu and Muivah in Paris. Subsequently, other prime ministers kept the ball rolling towards the Naga peace deal.